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What if the scariest thing on Halloween were actually allergens? Whether you're answering the door or ringing the bell, you're bound to encounter Halloween candy containing at least one of the eight most common food allergens.
According to Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, "The safest celebrations for those who suffer from food allergies are food-free celebrations." She encouraged parents to consider offering non-edible treats in addition to candy.
That said, there are now dozens of popular allergen-free treats for kids and adults who can't have dairy, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nut, fish or shellfish.
"It’s best to look for candies that are completely free of all the common eight allergens ... and often you can find that information in labeling," Parikh told TODAY. "Halloween is a high-anxiety time for food allergy sufferers, so every bit helps."
Parikh also recommended asking children with food allergies not to eat any candy before parents are able to check them or replace problematic candies with alternatives that are known to be safe for their kids and, as always, be prepared with injectable epinephrine devices "at all times."
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the safer sweets to stock up on this Halloween. And since products are occasionally repackaged in third party facilities, do yourself a favor and check the packaging before purchasing.
The best Halloween candy without of eight common allergens:
Don't be fooled by their name — Swedish Fish don't contain fish or shellfish. In fact, both Swedish Fish and their cute cousins, Sour Patch Kids are free of all eight major allergens. Plus, since there's a Halloween bag sold as a combo, you can alternate between sweet and sour depending on your mood.
- 2. Skittles
Despite the popular myth that red, yellow and green Skittles are all the same flavor, this fact is true: they're free of all eight major allergens. It's hard to find a kid who doesn't like Skittles, so if you want to be popular with trick-or-treaters, stock up on the taste of the rainbow.
Think Jelly Belly just makes jelly beans? Think again. These sour gummy pumpkins are just one of the brand's non-bean candies. They also don't contain any of the eight major allergens.
- 4. Peeps
Love them or hate them, these sticky marshmallows are available around Halloween in pumpkins, spooky cats, ghosts and even Frankenstein. Pay attention to the packaging (chocolate-covered Peeps contain dairy and other allergens), but most Peeps are free of all eight major allergens.
- 5. Mike and Ike
We don't know who Mike and Ike are, but we love that they're fat-free. This Halloween candy is also free of all eight major allergens. Try them in original fruits, Sour-Licious Zours or Tropical Typhoon.
- 6. Hot Tamales
Like their fruity counterparts, these fierce cinnamon candies don't have any of the eight major allergens. Since they're so fiery, they're not for sensitive palates. But they are popular. They're actually once the most popular candy in North Dakota.
- 7. Zollipops
Alina Morse was just a kid when she first got the idea for these lollipops that would help fight tooth decay. Today, the 14-year-old has a $6 million candy empire with products available in more than 25,000 retailers. Zollipops are sugar-free and free of all eight major allergens.
For more Halloween recommendations, check out:
- Where to buy Halloween candy in bulk online
- 27 unique Halloween costumes for kids and babies
- 15 cute (and hilarious) couples costumes to wear this Halloween